If you have watched the news, logged into social media, or read any Learning & Development newsletters this week, you have probably come across the term “quiet quitting.”
The phrase, which originated on TikTok and quickly made its way to Reddit, refers to employees working only within their company’s designated hours, doing only the job they were hired to do. As a practice, “quiet quitting” recommends against overachieving in exchange for “mentally checking out” and performing at the minimum required to do a job. From the New York Times recommending readers to try it themselves to Bloomberg warning employers not to retaliate with “quiet firing,” the media frenzy around this new term continues to consume career blogs and advice columns.
While quiet quitting certainly has negative connotations, many adopters of the phrase are championing the idea of prioritizing mental health over unreasonable deadlines, overtime hours, taking on responsibilities outside of their job description, or stressing out at work.
Regardless of how it’s defined, it is important for you, as a leader, to understand, listen to, and bolster how your employees are feeling.
Three ways you can manage quiet quitting and support your employees:
1. Regularly check in with your team
While you shouldn’t call out any suspected quiet quitting, you should regularly meet with your employees to discuss their challenges and praise them for their accomplishments. The goal of these meetings isn’t to inspire people to work harder but to find ways to support and mentor your direct reports to avoid burnout and bolster morale.
Here are some sample questions you can ask:
- What is on your to-do list, and how can I help you prioritize?
- Is there anything I can take off your plate?
- What’s a challenge you are facing that we can talk through?
- How do you like to receive feedback, so that we can work together better?
Regularly calling out the accomplishments of your employees is also a proven way to foster a community of respect and trust. Whether you give them a shoutout in your Teams or Slack channel or call out their good work in a meeting, give kudos to your team for the work they’re doing.
2. Provide opportunities for professional development and personal growth
One of the most common reasons employees disengage with their work is their lack of growth in a role or at a company. Regardless of your organizational structure, investing in the professional development of your employees is critical to their happiness, success, and retention. Talk with your team about their goals and provide financial support for them to attend conferences, join professional organizations, or enroll in upskilling programs.
Investing in the future of your team members through professional development shows you value them as people as well as employees. The empathy and respect this simple action shows is worth the monetary commitment.
3. Offer help and resources to support the mental health of your team
Harvard Business Review found “employees who felt their managers were not good at communicating have been 23% more likely than others to experience mental health declines” since the pandemic.
Communication, even when difficult, can greatly improve the mental and emotional health of your team. If an employee is struggling at work, remind them to take some time off or suggest they end the day early. Some team members may benefit from an adjusted schedule. Or, when your team has worked overtime to meet a goal, give them a Friday or Monday off to show your appreciation.
When you communicate vulnerability and acknowledge “It’s been a hard week/month/quarter,” your employees have the opportunity to be vulnerable with you in exchange.
Verbalizing your company’s mental health resources, admitting your own mistakes, and opening up about challenges your company is facing on a larger scale are all ways to keep a clear channel of communication to encourage a healthier work environment.
Whether or not your team members know what quiet quitting looks like, the behavior and feelings involved are likely happening in your organization to some degree. Keep your eyes open to the subtle needs of your team. When they are showing visible mental health struggles or signs of waning engagement, seek and implement solutions to support them. From a clear list of mental health resources and therapy to actively engaging in vulnerable, regular conversations, you can have a big impact on the happiness and participation of your employees.